What I Learnt During Pandemic Week Ending 13/6/20

In Jamaica I Learnt


  • 81 year old Chambers’ death, after being incarcerated for 40 years without trial, continues cause anger across society and in the diaspora.
    • The current PNP vs JLP squabble over Mr Chamber’s death- on who rejected the offer from the British government to build a new prison – is just asinine. The thought by both political parties that a prison would have improved the welfare of Mr Chambers is wishful thinking. Any new prison would have – by Jamaican standards – taken years to construct. Plus the UK & US administrations would have demanded Jamaicans imprisoned in their countries had first priority to be confined in the new prison..
  • If the Noel Chambers scandal had occurred in certain countries govt ministers and senior correction officials would have resigned voluntarily or fired as those nations take issue of public service to their citizens with pride.
  • It’s been a week of statue-tear-down debates locally and I think Noel Chambers’ name must not be forgotten. A noble gesture, landmark or scholarship programme for inmates should be created in his honour. So Jamaicans never forget.
  • Given Mr Chambers experience at the hands of the state I did find it uncomfortable (in the aftermath of Mr Chamber’s report) hearing the glowing tributes, the planned 3 days of mourning and closed casket viewing of the late MP, Shahine Robinson. Both Chambers and Robinson were Jamaicans. One served the country with dignity, yes and the other was never allowed that opportunity for 40-50 years of his life. A tale of 2 citizens, one for the poor and one poorly ignored.


  • The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) sadly had a few of their officers killed or seriously injured as they came under fire during a dawn raid in Horizon Park, Old Harbour Road. The alleged shooter was killed hours later in another town. Some serious questions on the intel and planning of this raid.
  • The discussions on whether certain public landmarks of certain individuals such as Christopher Columbus, Horatio Nelson and Admiral George Rodney is continuing. In addition to the statues and landmarks there are towns/places with their direct own links to slavery e.g. Longville, Colbeck, Passley Gardens, Ruseas High, Munro College. I was never one to get excited over the Colbeck Castle restoration plans given some of my own ancestors were in their fields 200 years ago.
  • Kevin O’Brien Chang, businessman and social commentator apologised for his  tweets: “How many of us would be here if Columbus had not sailed?………Had Columbus not sailed, the cannibal Caribs would have eventually eaten up the Tainos like they did elsewhere….”
  • The flip-flopping of the government on the COVID-19 testing of tourists is just farcical.
  • Two PNP councillors in St James – Sylvan Reid & Gladstone Bent  – were booted out by the majority JLP members for missing 3 consecutive meetings during the pandemic. Given the current mood this sounds very petty and a cheap shot by the JLP orchestrated by its councillor Charles Sinclair. Sinclair is also a Jamaican senator and parliamentarians over a certain age have missed numerous sittings during the pandemic. Maybe parliament should remove those parliamentarians who have not regularly attended select committee hearings since March 2020.

Globally I Learnt

The rally in a park in central Taipei on June 13 was peaceful, with only a very light police presence.

June 2020 – Black Lives Matter protest in Taiwan


    1. The public dispute in the UK between Black and Asian Labour MPs and their Conservative counterparts – over the issue of racism – is embarrassing.
      • Such clear disunity is why racism has never been tackled in the forthright fashion necessary by those parliamentarians.
      • These MPs needs to learn from the example set by African American US Senators Tim Scott (Republican) and Cory Booker (Democrat) who have set aside their political divide to work on a number of key race relations legislation.
      • For the last 30 years we have seen endless government endorsed race related reviews with little implementation of those recommendations. It is time a cross party group of Black and Asian MPs get together to fix this.
    2. There was a 24 period this week I could have never imagined in 2020;
      • US Republican Senator Mitt Romney -who gave up on the black vote in 2012 when running for president- on a Black Lives Matter march and
      • a British Labour Party leader (Keir Starmer) condemning the forceful removal of a statue of a slave trader (Edward Colston).
    3. The continued removal of certain statues of individuals tied to the Atlantic slave trade is welcomed. I agree that these artifacts should go to a local museum as I am not a fan of whitewashing history.
    4. Allan Chastanet – Prime Minister of St Lucia – was not impressed when his police commissioner, Milton Desir, banned a Black Lives Matter march. But some Saint Lucians still went ahead with their protest.
    5. Manchester City and England footballer Raheem Sterling was interviewed on BBC’s Newsnight and raised his concerns over the poor representation of black people in positions of authority. Having watched Newsnight for decades I cannot remember ever seeing a regular black host of Newsnight.
    6. Well done New Zealand for reaching alert level 1 during the pandemic.
      • Victoria University of Wellington will make access easier for students wanting to study at the university next year. They agreed to remove grade entry requirements, meaning any student who successfully completes University Entrance (UE) will be guaranteed entry to undergraduate study if they apply. The lack of overseas students (fees) no doubt influenced this decision but its a good move that other nations’ further education institutions should follow.
    7. Far right African-American foghorn, Candace Owens, continues her epic rants of hate and bitterness towards her community. Candace is the living embodiment of “Trent” from the 1960s film “Shock Corridor”.
    8. Great reviews of the BBC Windrush drama “Sitting in Limbo” which was based on the experiences of Anthony Bryan at the hands of the evil Home Office. The Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman reported that Mr Bryan turned down Home Secretary Priti Patel’s request for a video call just days before the screening of “Sitting in Limbo”.  Lets hope the Jamaican tv stations do not wait over decade before screening it there. As they did with Andrea Levy’s “Small Island”.
    9. During the shutdown Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford 22, has:
      • raised £20m helping feed children
      • launched a campaign to help the homeless.
      • learned sign language to judge a poetry event in a deaf school.


33 years ago in Hackney, East London, Diane Abbott became the UK’s first black female Member of Parliament (Labour Party).

Abbott’s pioneering record on human rights throughout her parliamentary career has been outstanding. But for me, Diane’s 7 years on the Treasury Select Committee (1990s) was some of her finest moments in public office.

May 1997, The Independent – Abbott to lead Treasury MPs

Even the Tory-led Treasury at the time was very impressed and nervy with Diane’s scrutiny of its dept through committee. Many assumed Diane would be a shoe-in for a senior position in the Labour government of 1997. Sadly that government appointment never came and Abbott was even booted from the committee by her own Labour leadership once they gained the keys to Downing Street.

I always felt Abbott would have been suited to the education or Chief Secretary to the Treasury portfolios.

Diane never attained any government position during Labour’s 13 years in power. That is some achievement by the then Labour leadership, given Oxbridge graduates (Diane a Cambridge alumni) are normally top choices for such lofty government positions.

[Abbott and her Labour Party colleague John Reid were elected to the House of Commons in 1987. During the Labour governments 1997-2007 Reid had 9 ministerial appointments, Diane had none.]

But despite its pretence of diversity many senior Labour Party figures (and the global wider society) find it hard to come to terms with independent minded articulate black women such as Diane. So from 1987 Diane was not going to sit in some corner and ask for permission to be heard. This did put Diane on a collision course with the British media whose sustained attacks were shameless and revolting right up to today.

Those current Black MPs who represent the Labour and Tory parties today should show Diane some appreciation as without her they would never have reached the House of Commons. Abbott’s general election success (along with her 3 BAME male colleagues in 1987) dragged the Conservative Party into considering black candidates for safe Conservative constituencies. But the Conservatives would take another 15-20 years to get black Conservative candidates elected to the House of Commons.

A political career hampered by inequality and envy from many of her peers and the media.

NPG x76443; Diane Abbott - Portrait - National Portrait Gallery

About africanherbsman1967

It wasn't me
This entry was posted in British Labour Party, british politics, jamaica, london, politics, united kingdom and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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